Team USA arrived in Finland (the tournament was held in Heinola and Vierumaki) just after Christmas and played their first game against Russia on Dec. 29.
Pulling on her No. 22 red-white-and-blue sweater for the first time was a feeling Laing won’t soon forget. “An amazing experience,” she said. “So many emotions rush through your body it’s hard to explain. It hits you that you’re representing your country.”
Laing finished second in the entire tournament in faceoff winning percentage. She won 78 percent of her draws and also contributed one assist as the Americans won their first three games: 7-0 over Russia, 10-0 over the Czech Republic and 8-0 over Sweden.
She also had an assist in a 10-0 win over the Czechs in the semifinals, setting up a rivalry game with Canada for the gold.
“It’s such a great rivalry. In warm-ups I was a little nervous and so excited because I’d never played against Canada wearing a USA jersey,” recalled Laing, who centered a line with Kent and Maliya Rodgers early in the tourney and played with Kelly Pannek and Cara Piazza in the medal round.
The Americans grabbed a 1-0 lead over Canada and held it until their rivals tied it up with 13 seconds left in the game. Canada then scored early in overtime to win the gold.
Laing’s older sister and teammate at Nobles, Brianna, was in net when Team USA won silver at World Juniors last year. This year’s coach, Beverly native and St. John’s Prep Hall of Famer Jeff Kampersal, coaches at Princeton, where Laing’s oldest sister Denna is a junior.
“Seeing Brianna on the team last year made me want to have the experience. She really spoke highly of it,” Lexie said. “She told me how different the play would be and to take advice and soak in every moment.”